Pandemic Pondering #98

Seasons in the Sun.

Rarely in England is Spring considered a season in the sun. Spring 2020 was an exception and along with Lockdown I think I’m going to miss it.

I stole the title from a 1973 song Seasons in the Sun which is a pretty melancholic song. In the 1973 iteration by Terry Jacks it is sung from the perspective of a man who knows he is about to die, he says goodbye to those close to him.

The original version by Jaques Brel was also melancholic, but told from the perspective of a man whose heart is broken by his best friend having an affair with his wife . The man with the broken heart believes he will die of it.

For those of you with an interest in Cardiology there is a broken heart condition called Takotsubo Syndrome.

Anecdotally people do present with all the symptoms of a heart attack and are seen in a Cath Lab days after someone they love has passed away. On rare occasions after their loved one has attended the same Cath Lab.

The link below is to the original song.
https://youtu.be/h02pNUKInBo

The 1973 version of the song became anthemic in my small Essex town during the seventies, when two teenage boys were killed in a road accident. The link below is the Terry Jacks version, should you care to share my earworm.

https://youtu.be/YG9otasNmxI

Today I was earwormed as I cut down and disposed of the poppies and alliums that lit up the days of spring. The poppies in particular became a local landmark. Which is in part why they have had to go. They were looking pretty shabby this morning.

They will live on in other gardens next year.

So much pondering from clearing a rough area of its faded poppies.

The alliums also took a one way trip to the compost bin.

Both can show off one last time to finish off this blog.

We had joy,

We had fun,

We had seasons in the sun.

But the hills that we climbed,

Were just seasons out of time.

Pandemic Pondering #97

What is a village?

@theoldmortuary is in a village that, like many, has been consumed by a larger conerbation to the point that it barely considers itself to have a separate identity.

St Stephens was quite separate from the local town until ribbon development and housing estates attached it. It remains separate from the next village , divided by a steep hill and a river. Land that would have been difficult to cheaply develop. Although an easier gentle slope closest to St Stephens has had two housing estates built into it.

As a village it was well set up prior to the attachment to a town . It had the unholy trinity of a pub, a church and a village shop. Plus,the added luxury of an undertakers based in what is now our home.

Pandemic restrictions brought the sense of a village back to St Stephens. Without a pub or church there was nothing to draw outsiders into the area. The people we met in the street, as we walked the dogs, were people who actually live here. A different sense of community also revealed itself. I’m probably going to be wrong but there are less than 10 areas of housing development or estates around the original hub of St Stephens village. Many of the current inhabitants of these houses bought their house off plan from the developers 40 or 50 years ago. These people have a village community based not only on geography but also 40+ years of living and ageing in the same space and experiencing similar lifestyle milestones.

The old village hub no longer exists, only the church and pub have survived, neither would be effective communities if their net for customers was not spread much wider than either the original or expanded village. Only one farm has been saved from development and Churchtown Farm Nature Reserve, as it is now known, is as big a draw to the area as both the church and pub to people beyond the blurred boundaries of St Stephens.

In London, and maybe other places, the word’ Village’ is increasingly popular as an add-on to properly define a local identity within the urban sprawl.

Before the pandemic I had not really given this sense of identity too much attention. I grew up in a village that had a strong sense of its own identity and clear 360 degrees of obvious boundaries between it and it’s nearest neighbours. In London I lived in a high density suburb in Zone 3 , Gipsy Hill, a place that has a strong seperate identity just North of Crystal Palace and south of central London. Somewhere that wants to adopt the word Village into its identity. Yet without even 1 degree of seperation from its neighbours.

I’m not even sure where this pondering is going beyond my own realisation that it can be really enjoyable to have a loose connection with the people who physically occupy the same geographic area and walk their dogs or families in the same spaces.

Village is not only a word but a feeling.

Pandemic Ponderings is taking a leap for Pandemic Pondering #100. A guest writer for the first time, whose words will be illustrated by @theoldmortuary. I hope it’s the beginning of an interesting collaboration.

The writer and I grew up in the same village. We live on opposite sides of the world.

Pandemic Pondering #96

Pods , Bubbles and Raindrops and a metaphor.

Rain did not stop play this weekend, but it did rain in Cornwall, this weekend. Our schedule had enough flexibility built into it to avoid a drenching. Thank goodness. We formed a government approved Bubble with my daughter and then socially distanced with some other familial bubbles.

If I know anything significant about bubbles it is that they pop in the rain. I would have felt safer if the government had used the word ‘pod’

Podding with someone feels robust and resilient. There is a protective element to the word.

Bubbling with someone seems frivolous and fanciful, flimsy.

A sensible mother would protect her child in a pod, we were only offered a bubble. People go into space in a pod not a bubble.

Without becoming over political this reflects the whole sorry state of Pandemic Precautions in England. Run by a government that chooses the flimsy alternative to the more robust one, every time.

We had a good weekend skitting about in our bubble avoiding rainshowers. Raindrops posed boastfully on flowers everywhere, calling attention to themselves and providing a visual metaphor for the virus that could at any moment pop our ‘ bubble’ of a slowly easing Lockdown.

Other flowers though had shrugged off the rain and were ready to get on with life as normal. A happy state that we humans are not quite at.

Hugo , being a dog flitted wilfully between bubbles and at other times posed in flower beds. Having completely misunderstood which restrictions have been relaxed.

Pandemic Pondering #95

Father’s Day

@theoldmortuary we don’t have any fathers. Definitely a cause of sadness but within our micro family we have two Father’s, my ex-husband and my son. Today was a socially distanced family gathering to celebrate at a distance those father’s both with us and those no longer with us.

Celebrate takes on a whole new way of being when the only alcohol is in the hand sanitizer and everyone has prepared their own picnic.

Our destination was the Eden Project as previous visits, since the relaxation of lockdown, have been very easy. It is never busy and has plenty of space for a family to social distance.

Our progress is always slow around Eden.

Today, patterns was my photographic project , beyond the family of course.

This first image is a pierced stained glass design and it’s projected image stitched together and then tiled.

The rest are just pierced metal and bright sunlight.

Finally we have the three people,all in the same log, that celebrated Father’s Day with their Dads today.

Pandemic Pondering #94

Northern hemisphere Summer Solstice 2020 and in Britain Stonehenge is all closed up and guarded by security.

Gathering in numbers is still illegal, although on our evening walk there were larger gatherings,than permitted, out and about but pretty nasty rain would have dispersed them. So the longest day will still pass without being marked in a communal way.

Trawling the archive seemed the right way to mark a solstice like no other.

For interest sake I researched the days either side of the solstice.

Without too much trouble it was easy to see some themes and maybe a little bit of Midsummer Madness.

1. People

Today @theoldmortuary spent time with our daughter and granddaughter.

In past years we’ve spent time with Brenda our mother-in-law. Who in this picture was captured by a sunbeam. We will also see her again today, who knows if she will bring the sunbeam again.

Breakfast in Southampton with Uncle Mohammed and Aunty Margaret who live in Canada but were passing through.

2. My fascination with street signs.

3. A fascination with stairs.

4. Flowers

5. Aberdeen , Hong Kong

6. Cups

7. Dogs , ending with a sunset on the longest day.

Pandemic Pondering #93

Travelling into Middle Earth,or less romantically but no less beautifully, Mid- Cornwall.The Coffee hounds were out today. Sniffing out good coffee and a walk at Siblyback Lake.On the way this old truck just had to be photographed.And then past the resting place of a Cornish King.King Doniert is mentioned at more length in Advent#21
https://theoldmortuary.design/2019/12/20/advent21/Our destination was Olive and Co. A coffee shop at Siblyback Lake.
https://www.olivecocafe.com/Already a favourite in Liskeard , this was a trip to their other branch.What a great location and a cute interior.We grabbed hot drinks and set off on the 3.5 mile circular walk around the lake.The walk is a flat easy walk and even on a grey day there were some beautiful sights.

For Coffee Hounds this is the perfect location. Good coffee, probably great food , as this is their advert.Plus a circular walk with great views.

Pandemic Pondering#92

This image of Hugo pretty much sums up my lifelong indifference to one of Britain’s favourite sports, football or soccer. As a blog that very loosely charts social history it seemed wrong not to mention the return of competitive sport to England.

Initially I didn’t give the cancellation of sporting fixtures much thought, but sporting events are, at the very least, background noise in the cultural life of a country. Significant events mark the gentle climb out of winter hibernation because they get media attention. The Six Nations Rugby tournament, The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race and the Grand National are as much a sign of Spring in Britain as a Daffodil. Even if you pay them no attention they exist. Except this year they didn’t because of Covid-19.

I missed the sporting markers of Spring.

I must be one of the least capable people to contemplate writing a blog about sport. Pondering is exactly that sometimes . How does the return of professional football touch, however briefly, my Ponderings..

Words of course.

I do love intelligent conversation about any subject. In some ways it is relaxing to have no opinions on the subject being discussed.

Football my aural pleasure.

Quite a few years ago @theoldmortuary were in a Jamaican cafe, in East Dulwich. One of only two tables occupied.

The table behind us had three men on it talking animatedly but most importantly, intelligently, about football.

Obviously, we eavedropped a lot, our magical Harry Potter stretchy ears weaving invisibly onto the next table.

We remarked , once we had left, how great it was to hear football discussed so wisely. When we left we realised we had been listening to two retired players talking with the owner of the cafe. This was my late introduction to an interest in football talk and the seed of an idea to carry this blog.

Football is much in the news this week . Post lockdown the men’s professional teams have started playing matches in empty stadiums in order to complete their 2020 fixtures.

More importantly a 22 year old professional footballer, Marcus Rashford used social media to eloquently force the British government to perform a U-turn on policy regarding providing meal vouchers for the most vulnerable schoolchildren during the long summer vacation.

Thankfully podcasts have brought us as much intelligent football/sport chatter as we can handle since the ‘ East Dulwich Ear Incident.

Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy accompany our long car journeys.
https://g.co/kgs/XiyDTW

Just this week I’ve caught two football podcasts.

Gary Neville applies Sports psychology to real life on Out to Lunch with Jay Rayner.A fascinating natter over simultaneous take away food about philanthropy and football. During the pandemic Out for Lunch has become, in for a takeaway, on your own with a lap top.

Lame joke me would have preferred it if his brother Phil had actually discussed the same topics.
https://castbox.fm/x/1FqhV

Then out of nowhere our favourite coffee shop launched their own football podcast.
https://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=544048&refid=asa
https://m.facebook.com/TheHutongCafe/

Headphones replace Harry Potter Ears but the effect is just as pleasing.

Daisies growing in the penalty box lines on a disused football pitch.

So here’s the conundrum , we’ve really not missed sport itself in the last three months but it will be good to hear about it again,and for it to mark time through the seasons. For actual pleasure and also importsntly because Eating Podcasts have filled the void left by sport. That is not entirely a good thing.

Meanwhile Lola can also demonstrate sporting indifference every bit as well as Hugo.

This is not a football club bench!

This is not a sports blog.

Pandemic Pondering #91

Palimpsest is one of my favourite visual experiences. I’ve written about it in a couple of blogs.

Originally the word described the effect of parchment being reused and the original script showing through the newly scribed text.

The contemporary use of the word applies to, a mostly urban , experience of Graffiti, street art , posters and stickers jostling for attention on walls and structures.

Tidying my studio recently has given us an almost parchment experience of Palimpsest.

We’ve started reusing an old familial blackboard as our shopping list. The blackboard has lost the ability to shrug off earlier messages. I could repaint it but I am charmed by the old messages butting-in to our current life.

Tidying the studio also provided plenty of old work filed away, today I decided to put it to good use.

I’m not really certain where one person creating a work moves from Collage to Palimpsest.

This is the first layer of whatever this is, drying off its first layer of sticky gluey creativity.

Progress will be blogged.

Whenever I revisit palimpsest I do a search on WordPress to see if anyone else is talking about it. Today I found

Elizabeth, saved by words.
https://wp.me/p2Gol-2fw

Blogged on the 18th April, she was one month into quarantine.

Three months in Lockdown and reluctantly easing, my thoughts run in a similar way to hers.

Life in lockdown has been layered. There has been a lot of thinking time, too much sometimes. I’ve definitely gained many new skills, I’m fitter of body and my blogging muscles perform much better but the losses have been eviscerating. Despite social distancing I know more people now than I did in March.

The thinking space has definitely helped the negative aspects of the last three months and created some wonderful memories and perspectives.

There is also a tiny layer of guilt that while some jobs have been done there are a pesky few that we have been resistant to.

Creating Palimpsest in the studio is the best antidote to chore guilt. One little detail is a bit of a wish for a return to normality.

Pandemic Pondering #90

#90 and exactly 3 months since I started Pandemical Pondering. #1 on the 17th of March was inspired by having to cancel an art exhibition I was organising with an art group . I was also showing symptoms of a virus so my lockdown and isolation was a week ahead of the official British Lockdown.
I didn’t really think 3 months ahead or imagine a daily pondering , pondering on for 3 months.I just checked the camera archive for the 17 th of March and I have nothing exciting to share. It must have been an unremarkable day.The unused public toilets near us gained a For Sale board and the shadows were longer.In those 3 months our lives have changed in unimaginable ways that have no direct relationship to Covid-19, but Covid-19 has shaped the way we have been able to respond.
The weather in lockdown has been very kind to us and the delicate blooms in our spring garden . A bit like wild Foxgloves our garden blooms are undamaged by wind or rain. So for PP#90 let’s hear it for Pinky Plants.PP#90 is also a day of celebration. Grocery shopping @theoldmortuary has been quite a formal planned outing during Lockdown. We’ve had a running list that could be flexible to cater for shortages. We’ve not been diligent shoppers if something hasn’t been available on the day we shopped then we’ve done without. For one item three months of doing without ended today . For the first time since lockdown we found grapefruit juice in a supermarket. Giddy Times ahead.Let’s see how the next three months shape up.

Pandemic Pondering # 89

What do you do on the day non- essential shops open in England.

For once I agree wholeheartedly with the government. They are non- essential shops. Obviously we avoided them. Three months without a non-essential shop has become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Actually what I do miss is mooching in a charity shop. The day they open will be something to celebrate.

The morning was all about dog walking and coffee. Inadvertantly a doughnut and a croissant also slipped onto the counter while I was ordering coffee. Some anonymous steps near The Mayflower Steps was our suntrap location of choice.

A great location to see swans flying under the lift- up bridge and out into Plymouth Sound.

But a moment’s inattention to photograph swans was almost the end of my doughnut breakfast.

This gorgeous orb of bakery loveliness and its accompanying coffee came from Jacka. Britain’s oldest working bakery.

Oat milk flat white , a doughnut and sunshine on these steps was everything that a visit to non- essential shops would not have been.

There was even time to bask before post breakfast exercise.

A morning well spent.